The law provides for giving land rights to those living on forest land for at least three generations before December 31, 2005.
The Supreme Court of India, has asked the governments of 17 states to evict an estimated one million tribal and other households living in forests after their claims of the right to live in forests were rejected under the Forest Rights Act.
The court has asked the evictions to be carried out by July 12 and directed the Dehradun-based Forest Survey of India to submit a satellite-image based report on the encroachments removed.
According to affidavits filed by the states in the top court, about 11,72,931 (1.17 million) land ownership claims made by scheduled tribes and other traditional forest dwellers (indigenous people) under the Forest Rights Act have been rejected on various grounds, including absence of proof that the land was in their possession for at least three generations. The law provides for giving land rights to those living on forest land for at least three generations before December 31, 2005. The claims are examined by a committee headed by the district collector and having forest department officials as members.
The Forest Rights Law itself has been criticised by both wildlife activists and those fighting for the rights of tribespeople and forest-dwellers, albeit for different reasons. The former believe giving people rights to live in forests will eventually harm the forests themselves and also wildlife. The latter believe that the implementation of the law is far from perfect and that deficiencies in this have resulted in many valid claims being rejected by the states. The latter also allege that the government didn’t exactly put up an effective defence in the case, which was brought by wildlife NGOs and activists. Read more…